Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

13 little blue envelopes


Let’s talk about how ugly this cover is. Do you see it? Are you looking at it? It’s ugly, right? Right. Good, moving on.

Ginny gets 13 little blue envelopes. One instructing her to go to London. The next giving her directions to a certain London flat. The many more to come take her around Europe and into the arms of Keith, a playwright and ex-thief. In a summer void of electronic communication or American streets, Ginny’s world is completely turned upside down.

I really disliked this book. The premise is typical and pretty dull. The blurb makes it sound like a romance, but really, that’s just the sidebar subplot. The main plot is about Ginny jumping from hostile to hostile around Europe with only a backpack trying to follow letters her cool and exciting aunt gave her. Borrinng.

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. It certainly wouldn’t be boring if I was on this adventure. But I didn’t like Ginny, either. She was shy and never talked, yet awesome things still happened to her. I felt like there should have been more dialogue in general, honestly. This isn’t a book that should take place just in the main character’s thoughts. There should be details of setting and lengthy conversations with all the new people she meets.

I’ll give it this: perfect for the beach. It’s easy, fluffy, and simple to read. The plot isn’t full of surprises, and the language isn’t hard to understand. I blew through this book in a couple days, and if you really wanted to, it could be read in a couple hours. It doesn’t call for a lot of concentration, and it doesn’t leave you with any philosophical lessons to ponder on, either.

I really don’t even have that much to say about the book. She goes around Europe. Sometimes, she writes to her friend, which was a little hazy. The friend wasn’t mentioned at all, except in the three maybe four letters Ginny writes. And it was completely random times. The chapter would end, and boom, a letter to the friend. There wasn’t any back-story or explanation about their friendship.

To me, the whole book would have been better in first person. It’s written in third-person focusing on Ginny, and with the limited amount of dialogue and because she was alone or meeting new people a lot, there were some places where the third person felt awkward.

Overall, it’s good for the beach (though I’d recommend a Dessen book for that instead).

2 Stars


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